Behold the outlier. Sometimes it works for us. Sometimes it works against us. But it adds excitement to fantasy football every weekend.
The outlier is that game from that player that kinda comes out of nowhere. Witness Atlanta Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson and his 30-plus fantasy points Sunday on just 11 touches. Does it make Patterson a starter going forward no matter what? But it was only 11 touches. Plenty of fantasy managers had Patterson rostered last week and didn't start him. In fact, in ESPN+ leagues, he was rostered in 89% of leagues but started in only 29%. Who knew?
So yes, ESPN fantasy sports researcher Kyle Soppe asked about Patterson going forward. He also asked 31 other pertinent questions, including about such players as CeeDee Lamb, Darnell Mooney, Latavius Murray and Jamison Crowder. And our NFL Nation reporters, as always, were ready to take them on.
The marquee matchup this weekend is in the national spotlight Sunday night, when the Kansas City Chiefs (2-2) play host to the Buffalo Bills (3-1). Since a Week 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo has been frighteningly dominant. It has outscored its opponents 118-21 during its three-game winning streak, with two shutouts. None of which matters to the Chiefs, who cannot afford to fall to 2-3.
The time has come for the questions and answers for Week 5 of the 2021 NFL season. Let's go!
Do you think Zack Moss will continue to get the valuable touches?
Yes. The Bills split the carries evenly between Moss and Devin Singletary last week, but coach Sean McDermott shared some frustrations about the team's fumbles this week. Singletary has fumbled four times, while Moss has only one. The Bills tend to go with the hot hand at running back, but Moss has been playing well overall and has been less turnover-prone. That should work in his favor. -- Alaina Getzenberg
The Dolphins are going to have to throw the ball no matter who is at quarterback. The word around the Dolphins' facility this week is that they need to get their main playmakers more involved -- that means Gesicki and DeVante Parker. Tagovailoa targeted Gesicki only three times in Week 1, but that was more matchup-based than anything. There shouldn't be much of a drop-off once Tua returns. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques
Yes on Mac Jones. And nothing should stop Meyers from continuing to catch six to eight passes per week. Meyers is arguably the team's most consistent player on offense, and considering that he's playing almost every snap (95.1%), he has a greater chance to be involved. As for Jones, his discipline to stick with the short, high-percentage passes increases the likelihood he will remain as efficient as he has been. -- Mike Reiss
No, Davis is the WR1 from a fantasy perspective. Nothing changes there. That said, Crowder will be a strong play Sunday against the Falcons. Their talented slot corner, Isaiah Oliver, suffered a season-ending knee injury last week. His likely replacement, Avery Williams, is a rookie. Look for the Jets to feed Crowder in the slot. -- Rich Cimini
Did Latavius Murray earn himself 15-plus carries a week for the foreseeable future after handling the bulk of the work in Week 4?
Murray has definitely taken over the lead back role, but it's optimistic thinking that he will get 15-plus carries going forward. The more likely scenario is 10 to 15 carries. The Ravens have been noncommittal on their running back rotation, and they will continue to split carries among two to three other backs. Ty'Son Williams could figure back into the mix after being inactive last week. Asked this week whether he has more clarity about the running back situation, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said, "The clarity is that they all can play. That's probably as clear as we are, right now. So, we just have to figure out how they fit together with what we're doing offensively." -- Jamison Hensley
You're drafting for the rest of the season; what order do you select their three primary receivers (let's assume full health)?
Right now, it's hard to pick against Ja'Marr Chase. So far, his big-play ability and rapport with QB Joe Burrow is evident. Because of his 14.88 air yards per target, Chase doesn't need a big target share to have a big week. My order, as of now -- Chase, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins.-- Ben Baby
In a run-first offense, does WR Odell Beckham Jr. have any chance at being a consistent producer?
Yes. He and Baker Mayfield just need to connect on the opportunities that are already right there. Most glaringly, the misfire at the end of the fourth quarter in Minnesota that would've resulted in a game-clinching touchdown bomb. Those miscommunication issues are holding OBJ's production back. If they're finally resolved, Beckham could return to being a fantasy force once again. -- Jake Trotter
Does WR JuJu Smith-Schuster offer enough upside to justify being rostered given the limitations of this offense?
Considering who's throwing him the football? Probably not. Smith-Schuster was a security blanket for Ben Roethlisberger last season, and their connection is a big reason Smith-Schuster returned to Pittsburgh for another year. But Roethlisberger missed Smith-Schuster on a handful of passes against the Packers, and he's fourth on the team in targets behind Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and Najee Harris. Smith-Schuster has big-play capabilities, but at this point, the offense is too inconsistent to justify a roster spot. -- Brooke Pryor
Who do you think leads this backfield in touches moving forward?
Mark Ingram II. However, again this week, coach David Culley said the team isn't going to go away from the running-back-by-committee approach. "We think that they all three have a spot back there," Culley said. "... All three of those guys have different ways of being able to help us offensively." Even if Ingram leads the way, as he has for most of the season, he'll still be sharing carries with Phillip Lindsay and David Johnson, which makes it hard to depend on him as a consistent starter in a fantasy lineup. -- Sarah Barshop
The fantasy community needs reliable tight ends; can Mo Alie-Cox be that, or were the two touchdowns last week nothing to read into?
Each of the Colts' tight ends has a different role in the offense. Jack Doyle is the best blocker who is also a security blanket underneath in the passing game. Alie-Cox is a red zone target because he can use his former college basketball skills to go up and get the ball against smaller defenders. It wouldn't be surprising if Alie-Cox's role expands even more in the passing game if he can carry over the success against Miami in Week 4. -- Mike Wells
Losing Chark meant the Bengals were pretty much able to concentrate on stopping Jones last week, and that's going to be what opposing defenses are going to continue to do unless someone else emerges. Tavon Austin and Jamal Agnew will get more work as the Jaguars try to replace Chark, but they're not the same deep threat that he was. However, Jones will still be Lawrence's favorite target, especially in key situations. -- Michael DiRocco
Rogers. Even when the Titans have Julio Jones and A.J. Brown, Rogers is the starting slot WR. Ryan Tannehill trusts him, especially on third downs. Rogers could also be an option in the red zone since so much attention will go to Jones and Brown. -- Turron Davenport
Until Jerry Jeudy comes back -- he suffered an ankle injury in the season opener -- it will be Sutton by the slimmest of margins, especially if the Broncos crank up their two-tight-end looks that they had shown so often in their first three games. Sutton and Fant have split the targets fairly close to 50-50 over the past three games (25-19 in favor of Sutton, but with 12 of those coming in Week 2 when the Jaguars inexplicably kept playing man-to-man on him without much of an answer). When Jeudy comes back over the next three weeks or so, things will change. -- Jeff Legwold
Not on any kind of consistent basis. The Chiefs like Williams in all situations, particularly on third downs, so he'll continue to get work, more some weeks than others. But Edwards-Helaire is still their regular featured back and that's not going to change anytime soon. -- Adam Teicher
Safe to say Josh Jacobs is the clear RB1 after dominating the work on MNF?
And then some. Not sure if there was any doubt heading into last week, given he was on the field, even with a sore ankle, but it is especially obvious now that Peyton Barber missed practice Wednesday with a toe injury. Jalen Richard could be activated off injured reserve for the Bears game, and while he is known for his pass-catching out of the backfield, his pass-blocking is underrated and would be greatly valued with such a beat-up and in-flux offensive line. -- Paul Gutierrez
The volume for WR Mike Williams disappeared on Monday night. Should we take note or label it an outlier?
Outlier. Teams won't double him like the Raiders did, especially since Justin Herbert has shown he can still be effective when Williams is doubled. He's too big and too strong. Look for him to take charge vs. the Browns and have production closer to what he had during the first three weeks of the season. -- Shelley Smith
Any reason to worry about WR CeeDee Lamb?
No, why? This is how the Cowboys' offense will work. It's not built just to run. It's not built just to pass. It can do a little bit of everything and that means some numbers will suffer on a week-to-week basis. Dak Prescott said the Cowboys have a "no ego" offense. Lamb isn't going to complain. Amari Cooper isn't going to complain. There will be weeks when he excels. Remember, he had eight catches for 124 yards in the first game vs. New York a year ago, with most of it coming before Prescott got hurt. -- Todd Archer
Yes. It was just a matter of time for Golladay. When he plays, he's a really good player. The problem early this season was that he wasn't healthy. Golladay missed most of the summer with a hamstring injury, and if you saw him run at practice in the week leading up to the season, it is hardly a surprise that he started slow. Then he dealt with a hip problem. Now that he's healthy and Jones is balling, Golladay will produce as a WR1 on a regular basis. -- Jordan Raanan
Any reason to think a Miles Sanders rebound is coming?
Yes. The Eagles realize nine carries over two games is not enough. Look for a concerted effort to get him more involved, starting this week against Carolina. Rookie Kenneth Gainwell has earned himself a bigger role, but Sanders remains the lead back for now and will have ample opportunity to prove he deserves that designation. -- Tim McManus
What did you think of WR Curtis Samuel's debut, and can we bank on volume this weekend?
His debut was OK (four catches, 19 yards). He was able to contribute on some shorter throws -- bubbles, screens, a pivot route. He was limited to 22 plays, but those snaps will increase, and I would assume it goes up Sunday vs. New Orleans. With Logan Thomas on IR with a hamstring injury and receiver Dyami Brown nursing a knee issue, Washington will need more from Samuel (who did not practice Wednesday because of his groin). It lined him up all over, sometimes in the backfield out of motion, in the slot and outside. He looked a little rusty at times with his cuts -- perhaps they weren't as sharp as they'll be the more he plays. But we got a glimpse of how he'll be used. The issue, though, remains how his groin holds up. -- John Keim
WR Darnell Mooney (five catches for 125 yards): Flash in the pan or sign of things to come?
Sign of things to come. Mooney has elite speed and put up decent numbers last year as a rookie. Now that Justin Fields is the permanent starter at quarterback, look for the Bears to stretch the field more often with Mooney. Fields and Mooney have clear chemistry and connected on several deep balls versus the Lions in Week 4. Mooney's arrow is pointing up. -- Jeff Dickerson
Is Jamaal Williams set to lead this team in carries moving forward?
No. Although Williams is certainly capable of carrying the load, particularly in third-and-short situations, Lions coach Dan Campbell has made it clear that they want to get D'Andre Swift going not only as a running option but also as a receiver. He is their top guy. However, unlike Swift, Williams hasn't been dealing with a nagging groin injury. Swift has had to monitor his body physically, which has opened up opportunities for Williams, who has been a rock for the squad. On any given week, though, Williams can lead the team in carries, but that'll depend on who has it going for that game. They like to ride the hot hand. -- Eric Woodyard
In the short term, probably Cobb because Aaron Rodgers will be down a starting receiver (Marquez Valdes-Scantling) for at least two more games. While Cobb, a slot receiver, is a completely different kind of weapon than the deep threat that is MVS, his importance to the Packers showed up at critical times last week against the Steelers. Four of Cobb's five catches and one of his two touchdowns came on third down. In fact, six of his nine receptions so far this season have come on third downs, and all were converted to first downs. Dillon has value, but Aaron Jones is still the top option out of the backfield. -- Rob Demovsky
Will the Vikings look to manage RB Dalvin Cook's touches given his inability to make it through entire games?
Cook admitted that his ankle is not 100% but plans to keep playing since he doesn't feel like his injury is getting any worse. The Vikings split carries between Cook and Alexander Mattison against Cleveland, and I would expect that strategy to continue until Cook can handle a full load. -- Courtney Cronin
It's tough to see Patterson becoming a lead back because their styles are so different as well as how they are used. Davis probably will hold on to his role, but he could lose carries at some point to Wayne Gallman or Patterson if his effectiveness continues to be inconsistent. Patterson's job -- part rusher/part receiver -- is one that's going to continue to be important in Atlanta's offense, but Davis is still the team's top back. -- Michael Rothstein
It wasn't like the Panthers didn't try to get the ball to Anderson against Dallas. He was targeted 11 times but caught only five for 46 yards. It's up to Anderson now to maximize his opportunities, which might decrease if Christian McCaffrey (hamstring) returns. McCaffrey is officially listed as doubtful for the game against the Eagles. -- David Newton
How has RB Alvin Kamara's role evolved this year, and will we ever get the volume in the pass game that we once counted on?
Obviously, we can't expect another 80-catch season, since he has only 10 through four games. But it will get better than last week, when Kamara had a career-high 26 carries and career-low zero targets. Some of his usage has changed because Jameis Winston doesn't throw to backs as often as Drew Brees did, and some has changed because the Saints' passing volume has been down overall while they lean on their run game and defense. But a lot of it has also been unique game scripts (three double-digit leads in the second half so far), the injury to backup RB Tony Jones Jr. last week, and the lack of other threats for defenses to worry about while WRs Michael Thomas and Tre'Quan Smith are hurt. -- Mike Triplett
Can we count on RB Leonard Fournette for 15-plus carries a week?
That seems reasonable, although coach Bruce Arians won't commit to naming him a starter over Ronald Jones II and vice versa. Still, it has been very clear since last postseason that Fournette shows up in big games and has the trust of Tom Brady -- two of the most important things in this offense -- and the Bucs have recommitted themselves to running the ball as things have cooled on offense recently. -- Jenna Laine
In a nutshell, yes. Conner has established himself as the short-yardage, low-red-zone running back option because he is bigger than Edmonds, who has become more a part of the Cardinals' passing game than Conner. If Arizona wants to keep the ball on the ground around the goal line and Conner isn't its option, then quarterback Kyler Murray gets the nod. -- Josh Weinfuss
Was the big Robert Woods game (12 catches, 150 yards) a sign of things to come or a one week squeaky wheel situation?
Perhaps a little bit of both. The Rams want to spread the ball around given they have a plethora of playmakers, but there certainly was an emphasis Thursday night to get the ball to Woods, who initiated a conversation with coach Sean McVay during the week to discuss how he could get more involved. With Woods and Matthew Stafford establishing a big game-time connection, watch for Woods to be involved in more of the passing game moving forward, though they're still likely to often depend on his willingness to block and be a team player to get the offense hitting on all cylinders. -- Lindsey Thiry
Probably a slight overreaction only in the sense that anyone throwing to Samuel looks like an elite connection the way he has been rolling the first four weeks. The great sign for people with Samuel on their rosters is that he appears capable of producing at a high level regardless of who is playing quarterback. But here's one thing to watch for whenever Lance gets his chance: The Niners will be more likely to take deep shots with Lance under center. His arm is stronger than Jimmy Garoppolo's and big plays can reduce the risks that come with more methodical drives. The fact Samuel has improved on deeper route running means he could continue to benefit if and when Lance steps in. -- Nick Wagoner
It'll be hard. So much of Seattle's passing game -- and thus the fantasy production for its receivers -- comes from deep throws. Geno Smith might be one of the league's better backups, but no one throws a deep ball as well as Wilson. If Smith takes over, tight end Gerald Everett could become more of a factor over the middle of the field than he was before missing the last two games while on COVID-19 reserve. -- Brady Henderson